Bhubaneswar: Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), a non-profit organization working for the development of urban poor in Bhubaneswar organised a public hearing on the “Issues and challenges faced by the Construction Workers” on Tuesday at Budha Mandir, Bhubaneswar. Around 50 construction workers from its three project settlements, i.e., Kargil Basti, Kelasahi and Palaspalli participated in the public hearing. On behalf of the CFAR, Mr. Samir Ranjan Dash welcomed all the guests, Jury Members and participants of the Public Hearing. Mrs.
Rosalin Pattnaik, the Project Coordinator of CFAR sharing the objectives of holding of Public Hearing gave a brief note on the finding of the study conducted to assess the status of implementation of the “Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Act and Cess Act, l996”. Sharing the study report, She said, “We did random sampling of 140 persons in our three project settlements (80 from Kargil Basti, 45 from Kelasahi and 15 from Palaspalli) and found that out of the 140 persons surveyed, only 101 persons( Kargil Basti-71, 19 Kelasahi and 11 Palaspalli) are registered under Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Act and Cess (BOCWWC) Act, 1996. And out of 101 registered construction workers, only 64 construction workers(Kargil Basti-48, Kelasahi-5 and 11 Palaspalli) constituting 63.36 Per cent have renewed their Labour Cards and only 16 constructions workers constituting 11.42 per cent have been benefitted mostly under Cycle and Safety Security schemes under the Act.” She also shared that the major reason behind the poor renewal of the Labour Card is due to the ignorance on the Act and benefits under the Act at the construction workers and frustration at the construction workers due to failure to get renewed themselves despite many attempts and spending moeny. She also pointed out of the unwanted role of middleman in getting renewal and benefitted under the Act.
In the public hearing about 15 testimonies were presented by the aggrieved construction workers before the Jury. After hearing the testimonies, the Jury members shared their views and suggestions and the Govt. officials and members of the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board assured to redress the issues raised in the Public Hearing in a time bound manner.
Mr. Dhirendra Panda, Convener (CSFHR), Mr. Suresh Panigrahi, State Council Member CPI(M), Mr. Subhash Singh, Chairperson, Odisha Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Board(OBOCWWB), Mr. Sachikant Pradhan, Human Right Activist, Mrs. Manjupriya Dhala, Director, CARD have consented to be members of Jury in the Public Hearing.
Sharing his key note address, Mr. Suresh Panigrahi said that “in the one hand the State Govt. is increasing the monthly pension, financial aid daughters marriage, financial assistance for death etc. of the construction workers, on the other hand construction workers are deprived from their due prescribed under the Act.
Mr. Subhash Singh, Chairperson of (OBOCWWB) said that Govt. of Odisha is speeding huge money for the welfare and development of the construction workers. He also urged the construction workers of the State not to fall in the trap of middlemen.
It is to be noted that in India about 94% of workers are engaged in un-orgainsed sector and construction workers constitutes the major section of it. The “Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare and Cess Act was enacted in 1996 by the Central Govt. for the betterment of the construction workers. In Odisha, Rules under the Act was framed in 2002 and registration under the Act was formally started in 2009 causing delay of almost 13 years. Govt. of Odisha claims to have registered about 25 Lakhs construction workers under the Act. The Act provides a number of cash benefits and assistance to the registered workers and its family members. i.e., Assistance in case of accident, (disability and death benefits, medical benefits), educational assistant for kids, maternity benefit to women workers, Assistance for purchase of working tools, Assistance for purchase of Bi-cycle, Assistance for purchase of Safety equipment, Housing Assistant, Stipend for Skill development training etc.
The Public hearing was ended with summery briefing of the Jury by Mrs Usharani Behera followed by vote of thanks by Miss Krishna Mohapatra, Field Coordinator , CFAR.